The importance of diversity in IT
By: Paul Brassil, Vice President, Information Technology at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, member, TechHire Boston
Last week, I was privileged to participate in a TechHire Boston forum, convened by the Boston Foundation, SkillWorks, and the Private Industry Council (PIC) which focused on strategies to close the workforce gap in Greater Boston’s IT and tech space. As part of a panel of leaders from public, private, and nonprofit sectors, our discussion centered on the economic shifts in the digital age and the need for employers to easily find quality, diverse talent in a highly competitive market.
The Boston Fed and its role in tech innovation
You might be surprised to think of the Federal Reserve as a technology-driven institution. From mission-critical wholesale and retail payment platforms, to highly integrated systems for the U.S. Treasury, and advanced utilization of big data and data analytics in our research functions – the Fed runs on advanced technologies. Here at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (one of twelve regional reserve banks), where I serve as vice president of our information technology group, we’re involved in efforts related to cybersecurity, blockchain technology, and cryptocurrencies, among other ‘FinTech’ strategies.
In all that we do here at the Boston Fed, we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive workforce and culture. These days, it’s widely understood that diverse teams are more innovative, more creative, and can deliver more effectively than non-diverse teams. So how can hiring managers in IT continue to find quality, diverse talent?
Our approach to creating diverse teams
To sum it up, we’re working to grow our network.
It is increasingly my experience that we must go beyond traditional recruitment efforts that prioritize personal networks and similar education backgrounds – which can result in non-diverse, single gender/ethnic organizations – in order to successfully build high-performing, diverse teams in IT. That’s why participating in events like the TechHire Boston forum – which drew an impressive cross-sector audience – is key for us. The room was filled with nonprofits, start-ups, public school representatives, private companies, national workforce development organizations – all of us looking to expand our reach and make connections that help our business.
As part of the Boston Fed’s commitment to diversity in IT, we’re also taking advantage of the bank’s partnerships with innovative workforce development groups, such as the PIC’s Tech Apprentice program, which promotes job training, sustained employment, and financial stability among Boston public high school students. Each summer, we provide internship opportunities to Boston youth – an investment that, in my view, has enormous payback. We’ve seen students pursue further education as a result of their experience with us – and in several instances, we’ve gone on to hire them as full-time staff. Other important partnerships that we’re leveraging to create a diverse IT talent pipeline include the Boston Foundation, SkillWorks, Year-Up, and Just-A-Start, among others.
Diversity and inclusion are essential to our work at the Boston Fed, and who we are as a workplace community. How does your organization benefit from diverse thought? How can we do more to infuse diversity and inclusion into our work environments?
Paul Brassil is the officer responsible for all central IT functions at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Services of central IT include application development and support, project and relationship management, information security solutions and compliance, and local desktop and network services. The organization also delivers a range of enterprise solutions to the Federal Reserve System including a national PPM platform, business intelligence offerings, and web services. Mr. Brassil is also a key stakeholder and member of the TechHire Boston employer consortium. Learn more.